PSU proposes 14 new building projects

Jay Kenton will soon depart as vice president for finance andadministration, but he leaves behind an ambitious agenda of 14 newprojects for campus building expansion and improvement.

Kenton will leave June 30 to take a similar post at Universityof Idaho, but he went out with a blast when he presented his planMay 7 before the State Board of Higher Education.

Kenton explained that there are more projects in the works thanthese fourteen, but any project requiring less than $1 milliondoesn’t have to be included in the capital budget request. Most ofthese projects fall in the student building fee category, hesaid.

“It’s a pretty aggressive agenda and we’re excited about it,” hesaid, “It’s the first time in my 20 years I’ve been asked to make apresentation to the board,” Kenton said.

He was joined by ASPSU student body president Christy Harper,who appeared on behalf of her longtime pet project, the proposedstudent recreation center.

Portland State’s presentation separated the projects into threecategories, each depending on how they would be financed. One wasthe so-called E&G category, paid for by Article XI-G bonds inwhich the state pays the debt service. The second category wasauxiliary, a debt service to be paid by various means, such asrents, funds from operational savings, grants and gifts. The thirdcategory used student building fee funds with some reliance onstudent fees and rental payments.

Student projects

Students control the student building fee. The students havepresented a number of projects, some of which fall below the $1million required for board authorization. The top priority for useof student building fees over $1 million goes for $1.5 million inbonds to continue code improvements and modernization of SmithMemorial Student Union.

The second is the student recreation center, recently approvedby a narrow margin in student elections. The proposed designincludes university-funded housing on top. The costs are estimatedat $30 million for the recreational facility and $12 million forthe student housing. The complex would be paid for by a combinationof student building fees, added student fees and rentalpayments.

It was this project that Harper presented to the board. Kentonsaid, “She did a wonderful job.”

There is already a movement on campus questioning the studentrecreation center, with some students resisting the idea ofbeginning to pay fees for its construction before it is actuallybuilt.

Community college union

Kenton assigned top priority to a community college partnershipinvolving constructing a building on or near one of the tri-countycommunity college campuses, to be used by both PSU and thecommunity college.

“This board has placed a real premium in community collegepartnerships,” Kenton said.

He told the board, “There is an increased need in Clackamas,Washington and Multnomah counties for access to higher education tobuild a college-educated work force to sustain the regionaleconomy.” He and staff have had meetings with Clackamas, Mount Hoodand Chemeketa community colleges. There has been less discussionwith Portland Community College, which hasn’t had a president untilrecently.

In the partnership plan, PSU would build a joint use building,contributing half of the $30 million to be paid for by bonds. Theother half would be matched by gifts, federal funds or local funds,or possibly property tax levies. The building could be used jointlyby the community college, by PSU and other universities. Ideally,it would be located at a mass transit intersection.

Kenton visualized eventual construction of three such centers,each financed in one of the future three biennial budgets andlocated on both the east side and the west side of the Willametteriver.

“My personal opinion is that we should put one at Gateway, whichis where I-205 and I-84 come together,” he said. Another locationmight be where I-5 and I-205 come together, south of the Portlandmetro area. He said Clackamas has some property at the old Dammaschhospital site in Wilsonville. However, Clackamas would prefer alocation near the Clackamas Town Center.

Mount Hood has 40 acres of undeveloped land immediately east ofits campus. Downtown Gresham, near Mount Hood’s new nursing center,is a potential site. PCC has land near the Rock Creek campus.Mayors of both Beaverton and Hillsboro have made overtures aboutdowntown sites.

Other projects

PSU would like to replace the inefficient West Heating Plant,converting it into temporary storage for hazardous materials nowfilling space in a lab in Science Building 1. A portion of thespace could be used by sculpture students. The price tag would be$3.5 million.

To serve buildings now heated by the West Heating Plant, theuniversity would install an energy efficient system in ScienceBuilding1 or Science Building 2 at a cost not to exceed $8.1million. Energy savings would pay for the new system in 15years.

When the new engineering building is finished, the engineerswill move out of Science Building 2 into the new building. PSUwould like to spend $2.5 million to renovate the vacated space forscientific laboratory use.

In what he described as a space-holder, Kenton said PortlandState would like to budget $7 million to acquire land for a futurehigh rise classroom facility. It would be contiguous to the presentcampus but Kenton declined to identify the land specifically lestit spark a price increase.

Most of the Fourth Avenue building is owned by Portland State.The university would like to buy from the city the remaining piece,the City Tower, assuming the $24.6 million bonded indebtedness.This is the first priority in the auxiliary category, to be paidfor mainly by leasing much of it back to the city.

No funding is needed for a project that would convert a groundfloor corner of the University Service Building to a restaurant. Athird party investor would develop the corner and lease it to arestaurant operator.

The university is leasing a building used as a businessaccelerator at 2828 Southwest Corbett Street. It now seeks $8.5million to buy and renovate the facility. A combination of tenantrents, Portland Development Commission funds and other grants andcontracts would cover the acquisition, renovation, operation andmaintenance of the property. The accelerator will have its grandopening this summer.

The “ugly duckling” building on campus, the PCAT building, wouldbe redeveloped for mixed use, from classrooms to a potentialgrocery store. The PSU Foundation and other private entities wouldparticipate in the development and lease structure.

PSU is using architecture students to help look through all ofthe campus ground floor spaces. The purpose is to look atpossibilities for retail spaces to liven up the street and createwhat Kenton called “a lively, trendy place where people want tocome, congregate, hang out, have a cup of coffee, have a beer, abit to eat, interact. To be a place where people want to hang out.”This proposal, too, would be a place-holder.

The redevelopment could involve the bottom of the Ondine, thestreet floor of the parking garages, and similar spaces. Nothingfinal is settled. The proposal suggests funding it with $5 millionin bonds to be repaid using retail rents.

Long-time development of the former Doubletree property-nowcalled University Place-foresees tearing down the hotel andbuilding high rise towers. The current proposal calls for $60million in bonds to erect a new building at the corner of SouthwestFourth Avenue and Lincoln Street, site of the former Denny’srestaurant. The combination of rents from housing, retail andunderground parking would repay the XI-F bonds.

Kenton’s presentation also called for $30 million in bonds tobuild a new parking facility some time in the future. It wouldinclude mixed retail, paid for by parking fees and rents. PSU haslooked at a potential satellite parking facility in the NorthMacadam district near the new streetcar extension.

Kenton said he views the auxiliary projects as place-holders foropportunities that may arise. These include the City Tower, the USBrestaurant conversion, the energy saving heating system, thebusiness accelerator purchase, the PCAT redevelopment, the newbuilding on the Doubletree property and the various retailredevelopments.

“Not all of them will necessarily happen,” he said. “This is aplan. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will come tofruition.”

Kenton said he anticipates that in its July meeting the boardwill determine what goes forward in the bonded projects proposed byall Oregon University System institutions. The board tends to allowthe auxiliary and student building fee projects to go forward, hesaid, since they don’t require state funding.


The price ofprogress
University Place: $60 million
Efficient heating system, Science 1: $8.1 million
West Heating Plant: $3.5 million
Science 2 renovation: $2.5 million
Ondine renovation: $5 million
Fourth Avenue Building: $24.6 million in assumed debt
Replacement of PCAT: cost to be determined
New engineering building: $44.9 million
Restaurant space in USB: no cost to PSU
Student recreation center: $42 million*
Smith renovation: $1.5 million*

Off campus/location indeterminate
Land for high-rise classroom facility: $7 million
Corbett Street business accelerator facility: $8.5 million
New parking facility: $30 million
Community college joint venture: $30 million

*to be paid for largely with student building fee money